I remember the first time I saw someone perform Wu Style, I found it rather peculiar. It appeared ‘a lot’ like Yang style, but with some slight differences. Most notably was the ‘slight forward lean’ that’s characteristic of the style. Then, when I saw the ‘taiji roboto‘ video I was even more intrigued. The idea of breaking the form down into a ‘square form’ so that everyone learns the EXACT movements before smoothing it out in the ’round form’ is awesome! Talk about a great path/route to learning!
Then I came along a forum thread titled The Differences between Yang and Wu, where forum poster, wuyizidi, outlined the following:
Standard step means when you step forward or backward, the space between the steps is one foot (your own foot) wide and one foot long. This is the distance a practitioners with good basics can comfortably cover while supporting all his weight on one foot.
This is harder then it sounds. You can test yourself by putting all your weight on one leg, bend it as low as you can while your nose, knee, and big toe is on one line, then move your free leg forward as far as you can in xu bu, or backward in gong bu. For that free foot, the entire foot should touch the group, not just the heel or the ball. See if the difference is at least one foot squared.
This is for training. In real fighting, how big your step is is entirely dictated by the situation. The most important thing is that when you move, you can be agile and stable at the same time. In Wu Style, the standard step is used to develop these qualities: forcing all the weight onto one foot at all times develops root, while at the same time giving the other foot maximum freedom of movement.
Hmm… What is the effect upon agility in lower stances? I remember a couple years back I was showing a coworker with a background in aikido and krav maga some chen taiji. I did a demo using quite a low chen side horse stance. He then asked me what would happen if someone tried to sweep my front foot. I told him to go ahead and try. So he did, but since I was quite ‘rooted’ in my stance, I was able to absorb the attempted sweep and apply a little push with my hands knocking him back. Looking back, was this taiji?
Furthermore, I’ve noted more than a couple of times where I’ve broken structure, especially during transitions. Not only is breaking the knee to toe alignment bad from a taiji perspective, but it’s doubly bad from a ‘healthy knee’ perspective. Hmm.. maybe there is some merit in this notion of Standard Stepping…. I’ve tried the exercise described above and I admit, it’s not easy! It was rather eye opening and mind boggling (doh!! can’t believe I used the word ‘boggle’.. I know who to blame for that! 😉 )